Mathsinspiration Lectures - Royal Northern College of Music

Mathsinspiration Lectures - Royal Northern College of Music

(Posted on 09/11/17)

A group of Year 12 Maths students attended Mathsinspiration lectures at the Royal College of Music on the 9th November 2017. The auditorium of the RNCM was full with young mathematicians from Years 10 and 12 from schools across the North West. It was quite a surprise to find that Christleton High School had been allocated seats in the front two rows. This meant not only a great view, but the chance to get involved in the onstage activities.  

The first talk was by John Roberts on ‘The Hidden Mathematics of Rollercoasters’. It covered how John used maths and engineering in his everyday job - his job being a rollercoaster designer.

Ben Sparks followed this with a discussion on ‘The Sacred Geometry of Chance’. His use of live music gave his talk a nice twist and his talk was generally grounded in experience, which all the young people in the room could relate to. He gave an excellent description of the solution to the problem ‘How many people do you need in a room to have two people with the same birthday?’ and attempted to demonstrate the solution. All of the Christleton students were involved in this demonstration. He may have wondered why there was giggling - we knew that of the first three people in the line, two of them shared a birthday. This may have accidentally sabotaged his demo.

Colin Wright followed this with a lively talk on ‘Patterns, Predictions and Juggling’. The juggling was particularly exciting, especially since he was stood only metres away from us) and we couldn't stop laughing because it was so much fun. The great thing about Colin's talk was that he showed you can discover things about the real world by making simple sense of things which otherwise seem unrelated to maths. It showed that maths can be used to master an understanding of what you observe in the natural world, which was quite profound.

We were a bit surprised that Ben and Colin both used material they'd used before, which is on the Numberphile YouTube channel. However, seeing it live is different and more fun. Both speakers had added much more to their talks than is on YouTube anyway. There are only so many ways you can talk about chaos theory and juggling!

Helen Pilcher superbly hosted the event. She set a half time challenge relating to the number of letters in an Alphabetti Spaghetti tin and DNA. We won a first prize! Thanks to CHS being on the front row, she discovered it was one of our student’s birthday. She arranged for a personal birthday message from the stand-up comic/mathematician Matt Parker. It was rather strange having a birthday message projected onto the massive screen at the front of the auditorium.  Definitely a memorable experience!

What made the day so great, was that the maths was so accessible to us which demonstrated that what we know already, is so powerful which makes us eager to learn more and study maths further.

In conclusion, the talk was spiffing it would be the highlight of anyone's mathematical calendar. Can we go again next year?

Ms Pitchford, Mr Holmes & Year 12 Maths students


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